French agritech start-up Elicit Plant is set to launch a new phytosterol-based product in Europe developed to boost sunflower yields.

Phytosterols are plant-derived lipids which activate the physiological defence mechanisms of plants in response to environmental stress.

During times of water stress, phytosterols play a role in regulating the opening of stomata, the pores which allow gas exchanges between the plant and its environment.

“There are more than 200 different phytosterols in nature. Each one is stress-specific and species-specific,” Elicit Plant CEO Jean-François Dechant said on 21 September.

EliSun-a was designed to be sprayed on sunflower plants, allowing phytosterols to enter the plant and stimulate root growth, the company said. This was essential to improve soil exploration by plants’ roots, and to increase the reservoir of water to which they access to, enabling them to tolerate drought.

“EliSun-a integrates a new technology that generates yield gains even in a critical climate context. The product …will be available for order from the network of distributors and partners throughout Europe from December 2023,” Ralph Beckers, strategic director of Elicit Plant, said in a blog on the company website on 3 October.